How to Find an Approved Credit or Debt Counseling Agency

Find an approved credit counseling or debtor education agency for bankruptcy, and learn which forms you must file after you get the counseling.

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When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must take a credit counseling course on two separate occasions – before you file for bankruptcy and before you get your bankruptcy discharge.  What’s more, you must get the counseling from an agency approved by the United States Trustee. If you don’t get the required credit counseling or debtor education, you won’t qualify for bankruptcy relief.

Here’s how to find an approved agency and how to file the proper forms certifying you got the counseling.

(To learn more about these requirements, including the rare exceptions to the requirements, see the articles in Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Requirements in Bankruptcy.)

Finding an Approved Prebankruptcy Credit Counseling Agency

You must receive credit counseling from an approved agency during the six month period prior to filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The United States Trustee’s Office has listed approved agencies by state. Go to the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justice.gov/ust and click on “Consumer Information” and then “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.”  For prebankruptcy counseling, you must choose an agency from the “Credit Counseling for Consumers” list.

Filing the Correct Forms for Credit Counseling

After you’ve received the credit counseling, you must obtain a certificate of completion from the counseling agency itself. When you file your bankruptcy petition and other papers, you must file:

  • the certificate of completion, and
  • Exhibit D to the Voluntary Petition -- Individual Debtor’s Statement of Compliance With Credit Counseling Requirement.

For a list of the official bankruptcy forms, and where to find them, see How to Get and File the Bankruptcy Forms.

Finding an Approved Debtor Education Agency

Before you receive a discharge, you must take a two-hour personal financial management course (also known as debtor education). You must receive the debtor education from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee’s Office.

To find a list of agencies approved to provide this course, go to the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justice.gov/ust and click on “Consumer Information” and then “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.”  You must choose an agency from the “List of Approved Debtor Education Providers.”

Filing the Correct Forms for the Debtor Education Requirement

After you’ve taken the personal financial management course during your bankruptcy case, you must obtain a certificate of completion from the debtor education provider. Then you must file with the bankruptcy court:

  • the certificate of completion, and
  • Form 23 – Debtor’s Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Financial Management.

For a list of the official bankruptcy forms, and where to find them, see How to Get and File the Bankruptcy Forms.

When You Must File Form 23

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must file Form 23 and the certificate of completion no later than 60 days after the first date set for your meeting of creditors. (To learn more about that meeting, see The Meeting of Creditors in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.)

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, must file Form 23 and the certificate of completion no later than the date of your last payment under your Chapter 13 plan or if you file for a hardship discharge, no later than the date you file the motion for discharge. (To learn about hardship discharges, see The Chapter 13 Hardship Discharge.)

by: , J.D.

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